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Post-Brexit, UK to treat Indian, EU citizens on par for visas

Citizens from 27 EU countries and those from India and elsewhere will be treated on par for purposes of migration after Brexit, the Theresa May government announced on Wednesday in what is being billed as “the biggest shake-up in 40 years” of the visa system.

world Updated: Dec 19, 2018 20:33 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Brexit,UK,India
EU professionals and low-skilled workers will no longer have the automatic right to move and work in the UK after Brexit.(AFP)

Citizens from 27 European Union countries and those from India and elsewhere will be treated on par for purposes of migration after Brexit, the Theresa May government announced on Wednesday in what is being billed as “the biggest shake-up in 40 years” of the visa system.

A new visa route for skilled migrants and scrapping of the annual 20,700 limit for work permits are among proposals outlined in a white paper announced by home secretary Sajid Javid. They will come into force from 2021, if all processes of Brexit are completed.

The proposals are likely to benefit Indian professionals, who in the year ending September 2018 were granted 55 per cent of all Tier 2 (skilled) visas. EU professionals and low-skilled workers will no longer have the automatic right to move and work in the UK after Brexit.

Focussing on skills rather than on a prospective migrant’s country of origin, Javid said: “Immigration is good for our country. It has made us stronger in countless ways. I am a second-generation migrant myself and if I look at people such as my parents I can see how they have helped this country in so many ways.”

The ability of EU citizens to move seamlessly to the UK will end on March 29, 2019, Javid said, even if there is a “deal or no deal”. The plans, he said, will deliver on the “clear instruction to get control over our borders and will bring in a new system that works in our interest”.

“It will be a single, skills-based immigration system built around the talent and expertise people can bring, rather than where they come from — maximising the benefits of immigration and demonstrating the UK is open for business.”

Javid said the threshold salary needed for a professional of worker to move to the UK will be determined later as employers raised concerns over the likely figure of £30,000.

The proposals will also ensure that there is no limit on the number of genuine international students, who can come to the UK to study. Proposals extend the time they can stay post-study to find employment to six months for those who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree and 12 months for those who have completed a PhD.

The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill to be published on 20 December ends free movement for EU citizens and creates the legal framework for the future borders and immigration system.

It also creates the legal framework for a future, single benefits system that will apply to both EU and non-EU nationals and maintains the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland, officials said.

The new immigration and borders system will be implemented in a phased approach from 2021 following an extensive 12-month programme of engagement with businesses, stakeholders and the public by the Home Office, they added.

First Published: Dec 19, 2018 19:16 IST